With increased awareness for supporting local, it is always inspiring to see workmanship that is done out of the passion and dedication of our local weavers.
While every clothing brand has a story to tell, not all of them have the power to imbue the rich culture, heritage, and identity of one's motherland, which is what makes Bagoyan a proudly devoted Filipino brand that is making an impact on the fashion world.
The online shop was founded by Jasmine Baac as a way to introduce to fashionistas various handwoven apparel, headbands, masks, blankets and shawls that are all made from Kalinga weaves.
Bagoyan, which is actually Baac's name in Kalinga that means a woman of beauty and power, was started as a way to bring the province's products to Manila and open doors for people to know about their culture.
"Kalinga is a 10 to 12-hour ride by land from Manila and one hour by plane to Tuguegarao, and then it's another one-hour ride. It’s far, so most of the lovely things we have back then are not shared to many because of limitations," Baac told PhilSTAR L!fe.
The sudden emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic further fueled her drive, "It was at the height of the pandemic when I thought, why not promote Kalinga now when there are more challenges, when weavers have no means to sell their products and tourism is down?"
"I started Bagoyan with the intent of promoting Kalinga, helping the weavers, and realizing my passion project," she added.
Continue reading to know more about Bagoyan's handwoven products and why they play an important part in spotlighting our unique identity.
How does your Filipino heritage/culture influence your brand values and identity?
Bagoyan is all about Kalinga and being Filipino. Bagoyan’s intent is to be a cultural bearer. I try to help keep alive the art of Kalinga weaving, to make our products wearable not only on special occasions but everyday; for office or meeting with friends, etc. Everyday is an occasion to showcase fashion.
People from Kalinga are always known as head hunters in the olden times, but we are peace-loving people We just stand our ground, and we fight for what is right and for what we believe in. These are reflected in the colors of weaving red for power, strength, and blood, and black for nobility, and elegance. Bagoyan as a brand is an epitome of Kalinga culture and tradition. She is a woman empowering other women. She is powerful yet kind, she values integrity, hardwork, and continuous learning. She carries with it the values of her forefathers and the beauty of her culture.
There are so many competitive brands within the world of fashion and beauty right now, how do you make your brand stand out from the rest?
I stay true and stick to my “why”. Why did I create Bagoyan? What does it stand for? What it can do to help? And it's also because I love fashion; I love to dress up, I try to mix modern and traditional. Marrying them creates better products. I believe that consumers know and feel how true and how honest a brand is and I think your brand will always speak for itself, so that is what makes it stand out. I just have to be always true to my brand’s identity and to myself and create beautiful things that reflect my brand as much as I can.
What other obstacles have you faced while creating your brand and how have you overcome them?
There are so many challenges and obstacles nowadays, but as one of my favorite books say, "Obstacle is the way." Logistics is one of my greatest challenges since my products are made and shipped from Kalinga and thus, delays happen. There are also mistakes and errors in the sizes because of limitations in communication, etc. But these are all learnings for me as my brand grew. Also, we cannot discount the challenge of having our concept and products copied. My photos are being posted by another brand. One made a similar color of my logo. One brand made an exact same product. I reached out to the owner and humbly asked her to make something else, but I was ignored. She copies a lot of brands though, so I stopped messaging her altogether and just focused on my craft.
I think the more your brand matures, you mature as an entrepreneur as well. You reach a certain level of wisdom to discern what to take on and what to ignore. It really takes a lot of patience and discipline, I would say. I still have a lot more to learn because everything evolves and we should not stay put. So, I just overcome them by improving more, learning more, and being better at what I do and asking for advice from people I respect and admire.
What role do you think social media plays in fashion/beauty/lifestyle today?
Social media is a tool that can be used both to your advantage and disadvantage depending on how you use or interpret and take what are posted. We must learn to filter what applies to us because like fashion, beauty, and lifestyle, we are different. What may be good to you may not be for me. What may be affordable to some may be expensive to others. So we just need to stay true to ourselves and take what applies to us.
Social media’s role is very powerful. It gave us a lot if information on things, so we just need to be able to intelligently identify what’s good for us.
How do you want your customers to feel when they're wearing your products?
I want them to feel connected to our roots, to our identity as Filipinos, regardless of regions, languages, etc. I want them to feel proud of being Pinays and Pinoys. That our weaves, our culture, and our heritage are in the products that they wear.
I want them to feel that the they are wearing products and designs that tell stories of women, mothers, their everyday struggles, their victories, and how they go on each day with the fervent hope for life, and the love put in the products that we make.